Work can be harmful to your health

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Sat 14th Jul, 2012


"Next stop: Munich central station. Please exit the train on the right. Transit point for regional and national destinations. For subway-connections please change here." Thomas absent -mindedly leaves the train, not sure why he always leaves work so late. He quickly glances at his watch. 22:50 hours. This whole week Thomas has been leaving the office after ten. He will only get to bed at 1 a.m., not earlier. His social life is catastrophic; he never has time for anyone, let alone himself. Oh, and by the way, Thomas will be on his way back to work at 7 a.m. tomorrow. The reason being; he cannot sleep past 5 a.m. Thomas is clearly being too hard on himself. He needs a break - and fast. If he is not careful, Thomas may end up being part of the statistics of people suffering from burnout.

In a survey carried out by the Robert Koch Institute this year, 7,807 respondents between the ages of 18 and 79 in Germany were studied to detect the prevalence of burn-out illness and diseases by gender, age and social status. A total percentage of 4.2% of the respondents had suffered burnout, 5.2% being women and 3.3% men. The highest affected group was that with people within the 50-59 age bracket, at 6.6 percent. Those with a higher social status were also more affected, at 5.8%.

The term "burnout" was coined in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger where he defined 'burnout' as "the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one's devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results." It is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
The burnout syndrome has been in the media for the longest time possible, and may be mistaken for 'fashion' but - unfortunately - it is not. According to the Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists (BPtK), workplace absenteeism in Germany has increased since 2004 by almost 1,400 percent. "The people are more and more overwhelmed with their lives and  work," says Prof. Dr. Rainer Richter, president of BPtK. "The psychosocial stress of modern society is severely underestimated. Emotionally overburdened people often get advice and help too late and the mentally ill are often treated too late. "
In 2004 100 insured people were absent 0.6 days due to burnout, in 2011 they were already nine days. Their share of all days lost due to mental illness is still low. In 2011, 100 insured people were unable to work 200 days due to psychological ailments. In comparison to psychological diseases therefore, absenteeism from work as a result of burnout makes up only 4.5% of the total number of days missed.

Burnout cause and symptoms

Burnout syndrome has many causes and could be related to one's job, lifestyle features and individual personality characteristics. Burn-out syndrome is characterized by persistent depressive mood, fear or phobia, fatigue, insomnia and sleep disorder, huffiness and aggression, panic attacks, compulsion, lowered immunity to illness, increased absenteeism, and withdrawal. People suffering from burnout syndrome may find themselves withdrawing from interpersonal relationships, or even isolating themselves from others.
  The idea is not just to treat it on time, but to identify it on time. If you realise you have started suffering these symptoms, remember a stitch in time saves nine. You could prevent yourself from having a total breakdown.

Burn out prevention tips

Start the day on a relaxed mode. If you can, avoid beginning your day in a rush. When you wake up, meditate or read something that inspires you. Secondly, eat healthy. Drink enough water throughout the day as opposed to coffee, do some exercises when you can, and get plenty of rest. Too much of something is poisonous. Do not overwork yourself. Set limits and stick to them. For example, if you have a stack of work to do, set a limit as to when you will go home. Instead of working through to nine or ten p.m., leave the office at seven, and come back the next day, energetic and refreshed. You will be in a better position to finish your work. Take breaks. Go out to lunch or put down your working tools at times. Stay away from the phone or avoid checking mails every two minutes. Rest over the weekends and take it easy on yourself. If, however, you were to busy to notice that you were on a downward spiral and now have a total breakdown, you may want to work yourself into health again.

Recovering from burn out

Rule number one. Take time off. Slow down. They say, it is no delay to stop to edge the tool. Since burnout comes about when our results are not as we expected them to be, the next rule would be to re-evaluate your goals. Re-evaluation will most definitely take you back to a place of setting your priorities right. When you cut out your unnecessary cares, your stress levels will definitely go down. We will not over-emphasize the need for good nutrition and rest. It would be wise to seek medical attention. There are indeed therapies and medication available for burnout syndrome.

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